The final clay-court ATP tournament of the 2023 season has arrived, in Kitzbuhel, Austria, with most players being clay-court specialists willing to shoot for one more title opportunity in comfortable territory. Opening day was rather uneventful in Kitzbuhel, highlighted by the first-round exit of Filip Misolic, the home favorite and defending finalist. Tuesday’s action features six matches, headlined by some of the seeded players and Dominic Thiem. We predict three of the day’s matches in this article and three in a separate article.
ATP Kitzbuhel Day 2 Predictions
Marc-Andrea Huesler vs Daniel Altmaier
Head-to-head: Altmaier 2-0
Huesler finds himself on a four-match losing streak dating back to Eastbourne, with his most disappointing defeat recently being in front of his home crowd. The Swiss player will soon have to defend some hefty ranking points in Winston-Salem and Sofia, the latter of where he won his first ATP title. Altaimer definitely has the edge regarding form; clay has brought out some Top 10 wins from the German. His recent Top 10 win, a 6-2 6-2 rout of Andrey Rublev in Hamburg gave fans a full glimpse of his potential. The head-to-head also indicates Altmaier is prepared for this type of matchup, and look for him to reach the second round.
Prediction: Altmaier in 2
Alexei Popyrin vs Arthur Rinderknech
This is a very interesting encounter based on their past results, as both players are coming off a title in their respective tournaments. Popyrin had a fantastic last week in Umag, claiming his second ATP-tour title. His semifinal win over Matteo Arnaldi lasted over three hours, and he had to come back multiple times in his final victory over Stan Wawrinka. Popyrin’s win over Wawrinka was also his first victory over a Grand Slam champion.
Meanwhile, Rinderknech dropped back to the Challenger Tour level to gain some confidence, and he battled through three final-set matches to win the title. There’s a strong possibility that one of these players will withdraw prior to this matchup, but the edge may to go to Rinderknech if it’s played out. The Frenchman’s game is based on big serves and is less physically demanding. Meanwhile, Popyrin may be too exhausted coming off a mentally-demanding victory.
Prediction: Rinderknech in 3
Facundo Bagnis vs Dominic Thiem
This is a rematch from just last week, where the Austrian won in a tight two-setter. It’s important to not overlook the fact that Bagnis won in this matchup one year ago in Salzburg, forcing Thiem into a sea of unforced errors towards the end. Unfortunately for Thiem, his form is pretty similar to what it was last year, and he’ll have to gain some momentum as soon as possible. Thiem did notably win in this home tournament in 2019. Yet, I do think the pressure of already playing this match for a second time may put the Austrian on the back foot. Look for Thiem to scrap through playing some B-level tennis, as the crowd will help him edge into the second round. Bagnis will have to repeatedly use his lefty game and attack Thiem’s inconsistent backhand.
Prediction: Thiem in 3
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